Sunday, April 29, 2012

Read Any Good (Gardening) Books Lately?

I've read several, and here they are. 

First up:  Small Space Container Gardens by Fern Richardson.  If you thought you didn't have space for a garden, you need only see the ideas that Fern presents in this terrific book. Full disclosure:  She included a profile my garden.  Fern shows you how you can optimize the space you have and offers lots of beautiful pictures, garden plans, project ideas, and plant color combinations. She proves that a container garden can be every bit as lush and serene as any landscape garden.

Gayla Trail has a couple of books that I really enjoyed:  Grow Great Grub (fabulous title, no?) and Easy Growing.  Neither are written strictly for container gardeners but both are focused on small spaces so the projects can easily be adapted to containers.  The first offers a complete rundown of food (vegetables, fruits, herbs) that can be grown in small spaces including growing spuds in (clean) trash cans--who knew?!  The second book is cool because Gayla rates projects on a difficulty scale so you can figure out what sort of commitment is required.  And there are plenty of easy projects for novices or those who are short on time.  Both books toss in some great recipes and craft projects for good measure--like making hot pepper ristras.

I found Apartment Gardening by Amy Pennington be to a delightful read with tons of information.  There are no glossy photos, but don't let that deter you.  She has lots of hand drawings which I find a charming addition to the text.  Amy tells you all about home composting, building a worm bin, and designing hanging planters.  Plus she has plenty of recipes so you can get the most out of your harvest. 

Finally, there's Grow the Good Life by Michele Owens. The secondary title is, "Why a Vegetable Garden Will Make You Happy, Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise."  That pretty much says it all.  This book is not necessarily focused on container gardening but it presents a wonderful case of why growing your own food is an endeavor worth undertaking.  Michele just makes you want to immediately go out and plant something...anything.

Now's the perfect time to check out these books.  They definitely inspired me to try out a few new things in my garden.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

First Rose to Bloom

Rose Perle d'Or
All of my roses are covered in buds just waiting to put on their spring show.  This is a closeup of Perle d'Or.  I think I've had it for about 4 years.  Depending on the time of day and the stage of bloom, it can look more orange or more pink. It's a repeat bloomer, is hardy to zone 5, and grows 3-4 feet high.  I have it in a pot that is 19" square and 15" high.  It shares that space with Heuchera Coral Bells, Beardtongue "Husker Red", Rosemary, and Creeping Jenny.

I ordered Perle online from Antique Rose Emporium and I currently have about 5 different roses from them--all in containers (of course), and all of which have bloomed reliably every year.  The company takes orders up until mid-May so there's not much time left.  All roses are $18.95 (plus shipping) and you can search on different categories such as shrubs, climbers, cold hardy, and nearly thorn-free.  The roses ship as plants (not bareroot) in 2-gallon containers.

Bookshelf:  Container Gardening Books

Sunday, April 15, 2012

How Do You Like Your Lilac?

Syringa (Lilac) Bloomerang
This is Syringa (Lilac) Bloomerang.  When it was introduced by Proven Winners (I'm sure you've seen their plant tags) a few years ago, there was a huge kerfuffle.  Bloomerang is a reblooming lilac.  What's that you say?  Yes, it's true--and it made some people mad.  There are the purists who look forward to lilac's bloom with great anticipation--and they appreciate it all the more because it is fleeting.  They believe that a reblooming lilac ruins what's so special about it in the first place.  Me, I'm not worried about violating some tenet of a hardcore horticulturalist.  The space in my container garden is at a premium and I can't afford to be so principled.  And yes, I have Hydrangea "Endless Summer" (though I also have traditional mophead) and "Knockout" roses (along side a couple of David Austins). 

Lilac buds

This is my lilac's 3rd season in my garden.  The first year, it didn't do much.  Last year it bloomed wonderfully but I did not deadhead the spent blooms so I never got repeat blooms.  This year I'll trim off the blooms and see if there really is truth in advertising. 

Bloomerang is hardy to zone 4, grows 4 to 5 feet tall, and likes full sun.  It's very fragrant and mildew resistant.  I have mine in a pot that is 18" high and 18" in diameter.

Lilac in bloom

As far as I'm concerned, Bloomerang can bloom as much and as often as it wants, for as long as it wants.  Who am I to argue?

Saturday, April 7, 2012

First Project of the Season

Seed packets (Buy at grocery, nursery, or online)
I've decided that I want a little more food in my container garden this year so last weekend, I planted lettuce.  Here's what I did:  (1)  I got a wooden wine box from the small grocery store that I visit often.  It probably helps that I had a full cart of paid-for groceries when I asked the manager for it.  You'd think a wine box would be easy to get your hands on but I've had stores that I'm positive get lots of them tell me "no" when I've asked for one. I'm not sure what they do with theirs but maybe it's no coincidence that these boxes can be found (for a price) on eBay. (2) I drilled holes for drainage.  Please wear goggles. (3) I bought different types of lettuce seeds.  (4) I filled the box with potting soil and added some Osmocote timed release fertilizer. (5) I planted the seeds.  They are teeny tiny so you barely have to press them into the soil.  Then sprinkle the soil with water.  Don't overdo the water part. (6) I check the box every 15 minutes to see if anything has sprouted.  So here are some pictures and I'll keep you posted on the progress.

Wooden wine box

Drilled holes (Wear goggles!)

Seedlings after one week

Don't forget to label!